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Old 10-11-2015, 07:41 PM   #101
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If the Jones Act does not cover foreign flagged ships, then what law prohibits them from going port to port in the US?
Look at the question from the other angle: Foreign flag ships CAN operate with a congressional (and presidential) approval. BUT it only proves the argument about interstate commerce on NON US built hulls being regulated by the jones act.
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Old 10-11-2015, 07:50 PM   #102
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Regarding the original question of the how and why.

Profit. Corporate, personal, and ego. Period.

Sometimes the profit is the driving force behind bad decisions. Many times the company is pushing the employee to make bad decisions (at the companies behest). Other times it is at the personal decisions of the personnel who feel pressure (ego) to fulfill expectations.

Sometimes it is corporate competition that drives faulty decision making.

The PR market is VERY competitive and cut throat. Speed, Schedule and ETA are very compelling reasons to make bad decisions.
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Old 10-11-2015, 08:10 PM   #103
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Regarding the original question of the how and why.

Profit. Corporate, personal, and ego. Period.

Sometimes the profit is the driving force behind bad decisions. Many times the company is pushing the employee to make bad decisions (at the companies behest). Other times it is at the personal decisions of the personnel who feel pressure (ego) to fulfill expectations.

Sometimes it is corporate competition that drives faulty decision making.

The PR market is VERY competitive and cut throat. Speed, Schedule and ETA are very compelling reasons to make bad decisions.
...or maybe the whole crew wanted to get out of Dodge before that storm hit..classic gethomeitus.
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Old 10-11-2015, 09:29 PM   #104
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...or maybe the whole crew wanted to get out of Dodge before that storm hit..classic gethomeitus.
Nah. It wasn't channel fever. They had just left JAX. Headed in a 'bee line' SJU. This was a case of straight line fever. (at the risk of deviating at your jobs peril)

I hope this is brought about as a result of the investigation and the outcome.
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Old 10-11-2015, 10:15 PM   #105
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I know I'll catch flak for this, but so be it!
Maybe the caption should have been "He" won't learn anything
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Old 10-12-2015, 12:21 AM   #106
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The "Jones Act" sounds like protectionism. Wonder if the multi nation Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement reached on 5 October after years of negotiation has an effect on it. If so it may be history now.
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Old 10-12-2015, 12:45 AM   #107
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The "Jones Act" sounds like protectionism. Wonder if the multi nation Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement reached on 5 October after years of negotiation has an effect on it. If so it may be history now.
It is protectionism, but my understanding is it will not be impacted. There have been several attempts to make changes and they've gained very little ground if any. One argument is that it doesn't restrict any foreign ship from coming or leaving and international shipping it totally open. It's only domestic shipping.
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Old 10-12-2015, 01:54 AM   #108
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Here's a little sea story for everyone who thinks weather routing is so easy on a ship.

A few years ago there was a hurricane churning in the Atlantic and I was an officer on a ship that would make the El Faro look brand new. The captain and I plotted out the storm and then asked the office for a 24 hour hold so we could fall in behind the storm. Naturally they said no and if we didn't sail, they would find a crew that would. Now this was their own private dock, no other vessels were going there and they paid for the dock if we were there or not, it was just a time is money deal.
So once again, the captain and I plotted the storm's course and the route we would take to give us the most room and we came up with about 150 nm. So we dropped lines and off we went. The only weather updates we would get were over the GMDSS every 6 hours and as the updates came in, we would made adjustments as needed. Well, once again, a storm became unpredictable and did what it wanted. In between one of the forecasts, the storm picked up speed and turned early... we got smashed by a little cat 1 hurricane. By the time we figured out this was going to put us about 15 nm from the eye of the storm, it was too late. There was no turning back, no hiding. Only speed would have helped us and we were out of that. We were getting pushed backwards in 40-60 ft seas. We knew if we lost our plant, we would die.

Moral of the story? We also thought we had a sound plan based upon professional weather forecaster's prediction. They were wrong as usual and we paid for it. It's not as easy as you think.
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Old 10-12-2015, 08:18 AM   #109
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SaltyDawg,

Thanks for the lesson, and I'm glad you guys made it out of that one alive.

Your post teaches not only about the unpredictability of weather, but of the careless thought process created by corporate greed :-(

It's a shame that they were willing to jeopardize your safety, and their load, for the almighty dollar.

Will we ever learn?

OD
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Old 10-12-2015, 08:51 AM   #110
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Moral of the story? We also thought we had a sound plan based upon professional weather forecaster's prediction. They were wrong as usual and we paid for it. It's not as easy as you think.
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Old 10-12-2015, 04:15 PM   #111
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It's a shame that they were willing to jeopardize your safety, and their load, for the almighty dollar.

Will we ever learn?

OD
Assume long as the master is the scapegoat, no. That way when something happens, all the Monday Morning QBs can scream "The captain should have. ..." and "professional captains" can get their 15 min of fame and the company can tell a sob story and talk about how this is only an isolated incident.

Any captain who gets on tv and says "I would have" blah, blah, blah, is either not a captain who has sailed for a company or is just blowing smoke because they know the real truth.

The truth is, we're able to be replaced and they have insurance that covers everything. Even with the El Faro being in the news, people don't know what a Merchant Marine is. All people hear is how bad the Jones Act is and how it should be appealed. We don't receive any support and we suffer because of that.

With that being said, there's always going to be a love for the sea and people will answer the call to sail.
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Old 10-12-2015, 04:44 PM   #112
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...We don't receive any support and we suffer because of that.

With that being said, there's always going to be a love for the sea and people will answer the call to sail.
Thank God that there are, and no, you guys (and gals), do not get enough credit for all you do!

Thank you, from me

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Old 10-12-2015, 05:15 PM   #113
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There's corporate greed in every industry. There are also choices to be made for employees in every industry. I realize many of those choices put the right or moral or ethical choice against one's financial well being or job security. Still, as much as I despise the corporate greed when it puts lives in danger or when it attempts to force people to compromise principles, morals, ethics and law, it still, in my opinion, doesn't excuse one doing what they know to be wrong.

In this case we don't know the facts so I'm not passing judgement until the investigation is complete. However, I will state this. If the company coerced either overtly or covertly the Captain into making an unsafe trip then they were wrong. If the Captain knowingly made a trip he considered unsafe, jeopardizing the lives of the crew then he was also wrong. There's no excuse in either act.
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Old 10-12-2015, 06:51 PM   #114
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...In this case we don't know the facts so I'm not passing judgement until the investigation is complete. However, I will state this. If the company coerced either overtly or covertly the Captain into making an unsafe trip then they were wrong. If the Captain knowingly made a trip he considered unsafe, jeopardizing the lives of the crew then he was also wrong. There's no excuse in either act.
Indeed.With the same reservations, there must be a point at which the Captain says" No, I`m not doing that".
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Old 10-12-2015, 07:18 PM   #115
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Indeed.With the same reservations, there must be a point at which the Captain says" No, I`m not doing that".
There is. Then he flies out on the helicopter his replacement flew in on.
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Old 10-12-2015, 07:48 PM   #116
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There is. Then he flies out on the helicopter his replacement flew in on.
That may be right in some situations, but that's not unique to this profession. Working for the right employer, the Captain earns admiration. Working for the wrong employer, they earn termination. Either way by making the difficult but right choice they earn self respect and peace of mind.

Unfortunately, even things like Whistleblower laws don't provide immediate protection. They don't prevent termination, just make it illegal. Any captain terminated for refusing to take a boat into these situations would ultimately win in court, but that doesn't feed a family in the meantime.

Pilots make these decisions all the time and their authority to do so and respect for their place in doing so is far better respected. I guess that's because there is more awareness of flying danger than ship danger.

One thing I found out early in my career is that the person who doesn't go along with wrong gets immediate repercussions, but the person who goes along ends up suffering long term and is very often made the scapegoat when things fall apart. When you work for the wrong employer, there is no way to win. So you just do what allows you to easiest live with yourself.

Facing these situations is just not unique to this industry, although in most professions it's not a matter of literally risking lives. Even in other professions though it's a matter of giving into things that destroy lives in other ways.

Fortunately too, there are employers who will embrace and hire those terminated for reasons such as this.
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Old 10-12-2015, 07:49 PM   #117
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SaltyDawg - I'm going to display my ignorance here, but .... As a toy boater, I can sign up for Sirius Marine Weather for $50 a month, using my Garmin setup that cost around $5-6k a couple of years ago. I don't have it because I don't need it. I don't know what the coverage area is, either, in terms of reception at sea. Probably pretty coastal.

However, I have to believe that there are services available to the merchant fleet that provide a similar level of service by whatever transmission/reception mode. The question is - Are things so skinny and "cut-throat" in the merchant fleet that owners are sending you guys out during hurricane season with only GMDSS 6 hour updates as your primary met data source? I can't imagine that a subscription to a satellite service and the attendant hardware would move a decimal point in the overall operational and capital cost structure of ocean going shipping. Is this just penny-pinching (can you say false economy?) or are there technical issues I'm missing?

And, to echo several comments above, my hat is off to you and your brethren who do that tough job.
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Old 10-12-2015, 07:49 PM   #118
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Indeed.With the same reservations, there must be a point at which the Captain says" No, I`m not doing that".
This is probably the issue that will come out of this in the NTSB reports.

Every marine incident has repercussions.

The General Slocum brought about boiler inspection and fire control.

The Morro Castle brought about further fire control.

The Marine Electric brought about survival suits on commercial vessels.

The Exxon Valdez brought about drug and alcohol tests.

The Mauvilla brought about RADAR certification for Towing Vessel Operators.

The Bay Titan brought about tougher requirements to 'cross job' in industries.

The Staten Island Ferry Barbierie and the tug Love brought about increased health and physical requirements and scrutiny.

The industry only acts (reacts) to accidents. Usually the more catastrophic the incident the more in depth the reaction (solution is).

Industry plays a HUGE part of the solution.

Yes, The Master has the 'Ultimate Responsibility' which in this case begs explanation.

No smoke and mirrors. The El Faro left port and headed directly into a Hurricane. The question is: What would a prudent mariner have done? The question is not: What should a mariner do to save his job?

The difference between these two question will be another huge change in the merchant marine industry. It's easier said than done. Ego trumps vanity unless the Master is responsible.
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Old 10-12-2015, 08:02 PM   #119
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The question is: What would a prudent mariner have done? .
The other question as you allude to in the rest of your post is: What would a prudent shipper have allowed or encouraged the mariner to do.

The prudent policy too is that either can say "no" and that stands.

There are also questions beyond the storm and including the condition of the ship.
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Old 10-12-2015, 08:30 PM   #120
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The other question as you allude to in the rest of your post is: What would a prudent shipper have allowed or encouraged the mariner to do.

The prudent policy too is that either can say "no" and that stands.

There are also questions beyond the storm and including the condition of the ship.
And therein lies the issue....

I know far to many mariners who are too consumed with 'keeping their job' versus doing the right thing for the vessel.

This is a huge underlying issue concerning ego, career and office pressure.

I am trying to dance around being too obtuse (I know, unusual for me). But this is a huge issue.

A huge amount of private industry being regulated by Uncle Sams Confused Group which is further pounded on by congress (influenced by corporate donations and pressure)

Once in Reedy Island Anchorage I was chatting with another Captain about when 'I was going to get underway'. I told him, I was IN the anchorage before he arrived, and I was probably going to be the last to leave. He responded with "I bet your office will make you break out first, since you have been here the longest". Wrong. It takes a different type of Mariner to take not just the companies desires into consideration but what is best for your vessel and your crews lives. It seems unbelievable to think that it could be different. But there is a problem. The El Faro is an example of this problem.

Mention was made in an earlier post about the forecasting. The NHC forecasting was spot on, and quite accurate. This was not an issue of bad forecasts.

After reading several of your earlier posts, I won't go into much detail, but there is a huge issue of job security here. People spend years accumulating seniority in a company and matriculate up to a Captains berth. The pressure to perform and comply is HUGE. There are not many US flag Unlimited tonnage Masters positions available. To a career this is a huge step. To refuse one of these positions is crippling to a career. To kowtow to office desires is a sure way to 'help' nudge a career along. It does happen, even when it shouldn't.
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